Northwest Local Schools address mold issue at elementary

January 16, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Officials at the Scioto County Health Department say the Northwest Local School District has promptly responded to issues regarding a leaking roof at the Northwest Elementary School and that the school has made repairs to correct a mold problem.

According to the Scioto County Health Department and Northwest Local Schools, reports that the school continues to have a mold problem are not true.

Melissa Spears, Director of Environmental Health at the Scioto County Health Department, said in September of 2012, someone had called her office and the principal of the school had also called to report a leak in one of the urinals in the boys restroom, adjacent to a classroom. A contractor was called in, and workers tore out the entire wall of a classroom as well as the urinal.

“They went in and repaired all of that. And then we went in,” Spears said. “Then there were no more leaks. They had put in the concrete sheet rock behind the urinals. They also put in half a wall of the adjoining classroom. There was no more leaks going on as far as the urinals were concerned.”

Northwest Local School District Superintendent Todd Jenkins said the school contracted with Engineering & Environmental Services of Dublin, Ohio, which came in and did a complete inspection. That company filed a 24-page report with the following conclusion:

  • That temperatures in the occupied spaces were within the expected normal range of human comfort conditions.
  • CO and CO2 levels were observed to be in the normal range of expected indoor conditions.
  • Indoor relative humidity levels for all spaces were within or below normal levels (30% to 60%) for human comfort and below levels (>50%) normally conducive to the amplification of mold.
  • The indoor specific humidity levels were also below levels (>56 grains per pound) normally conducive to the amplification of mold.
  • The sample results all indicated total particulate levels at or well-below the OSHA Threshold Limit Value.
  • The total airborne mold samples were well below screening levels. No elevated mold levels were measured in the building.
  • The visible surfaces appeared to be clear of possible visible mold growth.

Spears said the day the Health Department was at the school there was a heavy rain and they noticed a small amount of water had collected on the light panels as well as a few water spots on the ceiling panels. She said her department called attention to the problem.

“What they do is they do a walk-through, and they find out if anything like that has happened,” Spears said. “They then report it to their maintenance staff who then contacts the contractor who comes out, finds out where the leak is going on, and seals and replaces up in the roof joints or whatever. They will seal that. That took care of the leak. And they would replace the ceiling tile. And there was no mold.”

In an October letter to the school, outlining the issues, Spears said, while it was great that the school had that work done, at some point, her department’s thought was cost-wise, the expense would eventually catch up with the school.

“Then your maintenance staff contact(ed) a local contractor who comes out and inspects the top roof joint to identify where the leak(s) are occurring and seal that particular area,” Spears said in the October correspondence. “While the spot repair of these leaks is working at the moment, at some time within the short future, this will no longer be cost effective, and the problem will get worse. It is the recommendation of this department that the entire top roofing joints be uncovered and resealed and covered to prevent leaks and water damage.”

Spears said the recommendation to completely replace the roofing joints was just that - a recommendation only.

“We didn’t order them,” Spears said. “Our thought was that at some point they might want to start putting back, or saving or starting to think they might want to replace the roof. We never ordered it. It was just a cost-effective thing that we were looking at. But to say that there was water pouring in, or that there was mold growing all over the place, no. We did not find that. And they are actually addressing it. As they see it happen, they address it.”

Jenkins told the Daily Times the metal roof on the building is nearly 20-years-old, and it has a ridge gap where the two pieces of metal meet at the top and there is a cap that goes over it. On the bottom of the cap there is a seal, and over a period of time, that can crack, much like caulking around windows.

“When we get a long period of rain and the wind blows, it kind of blows the water back up toward the ridge vents. And that’s where the water seeps through a crack and goes down,” Jenkins said. “We reseal it when that happens.”

Jenkins said the roof does not need replaced and the cost of replacement of the roofing joints is not necessary nor cost-effective.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com